It’s a while since I’ve been to Germany so I thought I’d take the opportunity of running some top German wines through their paces at the restaurant Seven Park Place, which was coincidentally awarded a Michelin star last week in the 2011 UK Michelin awards. The dinner was hosted by Iris Ellman of The Wine Barn and featured nine of the top level wineries whose wines she imports.
It was a curious evening from a food and wine matching point of view. The wines were excellent, the food was great, the chef, William Drabble, previously at Aubergine, has a terrific track record but a number of the pairings, especially with the rieslings, didn’t come off. I’d like to have seen a touch more smoke and spice overall. The first few courses would have been great as a Burgundy dinner but not in a German one.
Here are my thoughts about the individual dishes:
*** Great match, the best of the meal
** A good match
* An OK match but one which slightly diminishes the food or the wine
No stars A misfiring match
2008 Wirsching Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg Silvaner Grand Cru (Franken) with seared hand-dived scallops, Jerusalem artichoke purée and crispy bacon.
Perfectly matched ingredients in the dish but they slightly overwhelmed the delicacy and freshness of the wine. I confess I thought of white burgundy. (*)
2009 Wittman Aulerde Riesling Grand Cru (Rheinhessen) with poached lobster tortellini, roasted cauliflower and truffle butter sauce
I particularly liked Wittman’s wines when I tasted them earlier in the day this one had a very pure fresh apple and citrus character but again was slightly too light for the very rich sauce. (*)
2009 Dr Heger Ihringer Winklerberg Weissburgunder Grand Cru with baked fillet of red mullet with fennel and orange.
The orange made this a tricky dish to match and the Weissburgunder (aka Pinot Blanc) was slightly too rich and ripe (*) I much preferred the fragrant aromatic Goettlemann 2009 Roter Schiefer (Red Slate) Riesling from the Nahe (**)
1998 St Urbanshof Leiwener Laurentiuslay Riesling Spätlese (Mosel) with pan-fried foie gras with black pudding and apple
I confess I breached my self-denying ordinance not to eat foie gras with this one. A stunning wine and a standout match - the wine picking up on the apple and offsetting the richness of the foie gras. Quite perfect. (***)
2006 Schloss Rheinhartshausen Schlossberg Riesling Grand Cru (Rheingau) with grilled sea bass, warm salad of new potatoes and wild mushrooms.
A strange switch back to a delicate fish dish and with the wrong wine i felt - technically dry but with a rich quince flavour (*) I preferred the Wittman riesling we had with the second course. (**) You could have done with a dish like caramelised quail with the Rheinhartshausen Riesling.
2009 Franz Keller Franz Anton Sptburgunder (Baden) with loin of veal with ravioli of ceps and foie gras, braised lettuce and Madeira jus
Possibly a slightly rich dish for such a young wine but it’s hard to go seriously wrong with Pinot Noir (**)
2008 Bercher-Baden Limberg Cuvee VIII (Baden) with best end of Lune valley lamb with garlic purée and rosemary jus
One of those stand-out matches that was more than the sum of its parts. The Limberg was slightly stalky and rustic on its own but was transformed into a velvety softness and suppleness by the lamb, pungent garlic puree and rosemary. (***)
2007 Bassermann-Jordan Deidesheimer Hohenmorgen Riesling Auslese with caramel parfait with slow cooked apples and a ginger tuile
A stunning dessert wine with hints of apricot, mango and pineapple, perfectly offset by a relatively simple and not oversweet dessert. A lovely match of the riesling with the apple and ginger tuile. (***)
From a wine point of view, as I say the evening was stellar so it seems a bit carping to complain about the food but I just think they could have been set off to better advantage if the chef had been more familiar with German wines.
Incidentally the most exciting wines of the tasting that preceded the dinner for me were not served at the meal: the spätburgunders of Weingut Friedrich Becker in the Pfalz and Meyer-Nakel in the Ahr.
I attended the dinner as a guest of the Wine Barn.